SENS Newsletter – January/February 2024

A group of adults and children showing a thumbs up to the camera while taking part in a media interview at the SENS Along the River Kent art exhibition.
Photo: A press interview at the Along the River Kent exhibition we hosted in November. 

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful festive period and that you’re looking forward to what 2024 will bring. 

A BIG thank you to everyone who supported us over the last year – from joining us at events to volunteering for citizen science tasks and adding your voice to our campaigns. Your support has been so valuable and so appreciated, and we’re excited to do more in 2024. 

You’ll find our latest updates below, including info from the Community Ebike Scheme and Clean River Kent Campaign

If you’ve got something interesting to share with us, or you’d like to get more involved with our work, contact us at

The SENS team

Upcoming events

Two young children playing in the waters of the river Kent with arm bands and an inflatable dinghy.

Staveley Against Sewage drop-in with United Utilities
Wednesday 31 January, 12.30-6pm
Staveley Village Hall

Representatives from United Utilities, the Environment Agency, and Westmorland & Furness Council will visit Staveley on 31 January to meet with the local community and answer questions. You can read more about this in our Clean River Kent Campaign update below. 

If you feel strongly about the condition of our local river, please come to this community drop-in to make your voice heard. Join the Facebook event here.  

A small group of people working in a damson orchard, cutting down a tree.

Damson orchard clear-up
Saturday 27 January

Help us to prep the damson orchard for the new year and get it ready to (hopefully!) provide lots of lovely fruit come summer. Sturdy boots and gloves are a must. Find out more.

A smiling person at the Sustainable Staveley repair café standing in front of their newly fixed bike with a sign that says 'fixed!'

Staveley Repair Café 
Monday 19 February

Our Repair Cafés had such a lovely community atmosphere last year and we’re excited to bring them back for 2024. Come with your niggling repair jobs – from sewing to electricals – and our brilliant volunteers will help to fix them. Find out more.


Community Ebikes update

A shot of two people cycling on ebikes up a slight hill on a country road.

Our Community Ebikes pilot project is now a year old! Thank you to everyone who has supported the scheme so far.

We’re planning a few new ideas for the next year. First up, until the 31 January, we’re offering the bikes to local residents and businesses on a ‘try-before-you-use’ basis. 

The Ebikes are available to take home on loan so that you can get a full picture of how they fit into your life, from leisure to travel to shopping. Email to organise your trial. 

You can also still sign up to the scheme with our regular subscription options – find out more.

We’re pleased to be working with The Body Rehab Injury and Rehabilitation Clinic to offer the Ebikes as part of their rehabilitation programmes.  

Clean River Kent Campaign Update

Photo: One of the pieces of artwork by Staveley schoolchildren presented to UU CEO Louise Beardmore.

CRKC’s main focus over the next few weeks is the United Utilities (UU) visit to Staveley on 31 January

Prior to the public drop-in event, UU CEO, Louise Beardmore, will meet with CRKC to discuss the river Kent in general, then with the Parish Council to discuss issues specific to Staveley. 

UU have published their draft business plan for 2025-2030, which will now be reviewed by Ofwat, the Water Services Regulation Authority. It’s confirmed that there will be funding for improvements at Staveley Wastewater Treatment Works, but UU haven’t provided details yet. No funding has been identified to stop sewage backing up on Staveley’s streets. The plan should be published and agreed by December 2024. 

The drop-in event will provide an opportunity for you to put questions to UU representatives and find out more about their plans. Please join the Facebook event and come along to put your views forward.

Citizen Science programme

A big thank you to the citizen science volunteers helping us with FreshWater Watch Nutrient Testing, which is taking place once a month at 20 locations on the Kent and its tributaries. We’ll share a report on the findings soon, which will help us to understand more about the river and what needs to change. 

An update on Microbial Source Tracking – a fancy term for a DNA test that will help us to determine the source of the E. coli that we know is in the river. We’ve received funding from the Patagonia Foundation and the Woodleigh Trust, and will be signing a contract with the University of Sheffield, who’ll test the samples for us, in the new year. We’ll take samples from above and below the WwTWs at both Staveley and Kendal, starting in March.    

We need volunteers to help collect the samples and take them to Sheffield – this will be weekdays only as the lab may not be open at the weekend. If you can help with this, please get in touch!

2024 planning workshop

Would you like to get involved with CRKC planning to help us shape our campaign for 2024? We’re hoping to host a workshop in Kendal on a Saturday in March, 12-3pm – we’ll confirm the date and time soon. Here’s are some of our main priorities:

– It looks likely that we’ll have a General Election this year, so we’re prioritising campaigning and communications to ensure that our Parliamentary candidates understand the strength of local feeling about the river Kent. 

– We’re considering resubmitting the application for Bathing Water Designation. Location TBC – but we need to ensure we have 100+ people there twice between May and September to fulfil requirements. 

– We’d like to host a series of talks on practical issues, like septic tank management, and potentially a film showing at Brewery Arts in Kendal. Suggestions welcome for topics and films!

– Engaging a wider group of supporters is a goal this year, via practical one-off projects such as river clean-ups and involvement in events like Kendal Mountain Festival.

– We want to work with local universities and colleges to propose student projects that will help our campaign. 

We’ll discuss our full list of priorities at the workshop. Please do come along to learn more and get involved. Any ideas you’d like to bring up for discussion? Let us know as soon as possible via 

Local news & events

Create a #WilderCumbria with Cumbria Wildlife Trust

There are Cumbria Wildlife Trust conservation days coming up at Staveley Woodlands on 15 January and 2 February. Danni from the Trust is also running separate work parties to help with the coppice coups and collect wood in Dorothy Farrer’s. The next work party is on 7 February – please contact Danni directly on 07864 589167 to book.

Spotted an opportunity to make a difference for nature in Staveley and create a #WilderCumbria? If you need information, resources or connections, the Community Development Team at Cumbria Wildlife Trust can help. Find out more.

Staveley Warm Spaces

Warm Spaces sessions take place at The Institute every Tuesday and Thursday, 12pm-2pm. They provide a cosy place to chat with friends or meet new people, use the WiFi and enjoy an optional free lunch. Drop in whenever you like and please spread the word – the more the merrier!

Energy Champions information session
Tuesday 6 February, 12-1pm, online

Become an Energy Champion to help colleagues, clients or your local community access free support from the Cold to Cosy Homes scheme. This free session Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) covers the benefits of the scheme, who is eligible and how to refer them. It’s ideal for volunteers or professionals working with people who would gain from having a warmer home that’s cheaper to heat. Find out more.

Support SENS

We’re a volunteer-led organisation that relies on grants and contributions. Here’s how to support our work

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Thanks for reading!